Monday, January 19

Winter Activities in Muskoka and Almaguin

Winter just might be the most playful season of all. There is so much to do, especially once you get out of the city, get bundled up, and head outside. I've put together a list of some of the popular winter activities in Muskoka and the Almaguin Highlands to get you started planning your perfect winter getaway.

Cross-country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Skating and Tubing
Arrowhead Provincial Park

Hwy 11, just north of Huntsville
Cross-country ski trails groomed for both skate-ski and classic style; snowshoe trails; toboggan hill with free inner tubes available to use; and even an ice skating trail through the forest! A favourite winter hike is the short trail to Stubb's Falls.
Ski, skate and snowshoe rentals available at reasonable rates.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

Hidden Valley Ski Hill

Hwy 60, just east of Huntsville
Downhill skiing and snowboarding in the heart of Muskoka.

Cross-country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Dog sledding, Winter Hiking
Algonquin Park
Hwy 60, east of Huntsville
Many day trails along the Hwy 60 corridor are open for hiking or snowshoeing; plus there are three cross-country ski trails with loops ranging from 5km to 24km. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available at local outfitters. The visitor centre (including interpretive displays, bookstore and restaurant) is open weekends throughout the winter, and daily during the school break season March 7-22. The park office is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Shopping & Dining
; from Hwy 11 take exit #219 or #221 and follow signs
Browse the shops, boutiques and galleries of Huntsville's historic down town. Savour a meal or sample some sweets from a variety of restaurants, cafés and bakeries.

Dog Sledding
Mushing through a snowy Muskoka forest is a thrilling adventure, drawing people from around the world to our little piece of winter wonderland. Guests at Fern Glen Inn can add a half-day or full-day guided dog sledding trip to any stay or getaway package. Read about dog sledding trip details here; or call or email with your questions.

Snowshoeing, Tobogganing, Snow angel making, Getting toasty by the fire
Fern Glen Inn
Fern Glen Rd, west of Hwy 11, north of Huntsville
You don't even have to leave the inn to enjoy the peace and quiet of a winter wonderland forest, or the sheer fun of playing in the snow. We'll fuel your day with an abundant, healthful breakfast before you hit the trails or slope. 

Complimentary snowshoes are available for guests to use on our private trails that wind through our 120-acre property. There are toboggans for the hill, bird seed to hand-fee the chickadees, and a real wood-burning stove to warm up by in the rustic cabin lounge. Of course, it's up to you to bring a sense of adventure and a hearty appetite!

Winter Events in Muskoka and Almaguin

As a four-season destination, there are plenty of events happening in and around Muskoka and the Almaguin Highlands throughout the winter.

Here's a list of some of the organized events open to the public. Check back regularly as I'll add more events as I hear about them.

Canadian National Pond Hockey Championships
With 24 outdoor rinks on the frozen water of Peninsula Lake, the 4th annual pond hockey tournament is billed as the world's largest pond hockey event. It takes place over two weekends so there's plenty of action for every die-hard hockey fan.
Jan 23-25 & Jan 30 - Feb 1

Kearney Dog Sled Races
Over 70 racers are expected to compete at the 15th annual Kearney Dog Sled Races. Watch and cheer the 4-, 6- and 40-mile races and the Kid & Mutt race, or take part in the activities and events around town. Enjoy ice skating, bonfire, silent auction, live entertainment, antique snowmobile display, dog sled rides, meals, refreshments, Saturday night dance and more. New this year is a 4-mile skijoring race, where each racer is on skis and harnessed to one or two dogs.
Feb 6, 7 & 8

Almaguin Cup
Burk's Falls
Watch snowmobiles zoom around a track at breakneck speed at the 3rd Annual Almaguin Cup snowmobile race. The legion will be hosting dinners each night. The cost is $20 per day, or $30 for a weekend pass.
Feb 7 & 8

Skate Night
Free skating at the Novar outdoor ice rink, hosted by the Perry Township Parks and Recreation Department. There will be hot chocolate and music. Bring your own skates.
Feb 7

Skate Night
Free skating at the Emsdale outdoor ice rink, hosted by the Perry Township Parks and Recreation Department. There will be hot chocolate and music. Bring your own skates.
Feb 21

Winter Fun Day
Oxtongue Lake
The 15th annual Winter Fun Day is hosted by Algonquin Outfitters at their Oxtongue Lake location. This free, family-oriented event is designed to introduce people to self-propelled (or at least non-motorized) winter activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, skate skiing, kick-sledding, winter camping, ice-climbing and dog sledding, as well as provide a host of opportunities to have fun in the snow.
Feb 21

Dwight Winter Carnival
The 39th annual Dwight Winter Carnival is a weekend-long event celebrating the snowy season. Dog sled rides, horse-drawn rides, indoor horse racing, chainsaw carving, and more. Located in the town of Dwight, on Hwy 60 between Huntsville and Algonquin Park. Admission is just $3/person.
Feb 26-28

Of course, we hope you include a stay at the Fern Glen Inn B&B as part of your getaway to Muskoka and the Almaguin Highlands. We'll be happy to help you make plans to enjoy these and other events in the region. Just give us a call, send us an email or visit our website.

Thursday, January 15

Dog Sledding in Muskoka

What to Expect on your Dog Sledding Adventure

Dog sledding has become a popular winter adventure in Ontario, and for good reason! Mushing behind a team of dogs, up hills and down, winding and wending through a snow-clad Muskoka forest on the edge of Algonquin Park is an experience you'll never forget.

Part of the appeal of the adventure is its hands-on nature. Contrary to what you might think, dog sledding is not a passive activity where you sit back and watch the world go by. As the musher, you work too!

The trip starts at a local farmhouse ranch. Your guide, Brad, will often enlist help from the trip participants to harness the dogs and prepare the sleds. Instructions follow—pay attention—before you hit the trail in a dog sled convoy.

Two riders share a sled and team of five to eight dogs. One person starts out riding in the sled and the other person stands at the back and 'drives'. Half-way through the the half-day (approximately 3-hour) trip you break for hot chocolate and granola bars. After the break, you switch positions with your sled-mate so everyone has a chance to ride and drive.

As with any outdoor sport, dog sledding is best enjoyed if you're well prepared for it. There are no indoor facilities out on the trail, so you're outside the entire length of your trip. It can get very cold sitting in the sled, and you can work up a sweat when it's your turn to mush, so dressing in layers that you can add or remove is important, as are warm winter boots. Consider bringing hand and foot warmers (Hot Shots, HotHand or similar brands) to tuck in your mitts and boots.

We also suggest you bring an old blanket or sleeping bag to sit on or under during your ride in the sled. And don't forget your camera/video!

Guests of the inn can add a Muskoka Dog Sledding adventure to any overnight stay or package.
Our Chili-Dog Getaway package is very popular, combining a 2-night stay at the inn with a half-day guided dog sledding excursion at the ranch followed up by a hearty chili dinner at the inn, complete with fresh-baked cornbread and homemade dessert. Fill-your-belly comfort food hits the spot after an exhilarating day outdoors.

To book your Chili-Dog Getaway, click HERE to check availability at the inn and to make your reservation for your preferred room and dates (don't forget to add Chili-Dog Getaway for Two from the list of packages and add-ons). This will hold hold your room and rate while we confirm availability with the dog sled ranch. This should take one to two days. If dog sledding is not available for your chosen dates, you will have the option to choose new dates or cancel the booking with no charge.

Sunday, January 4

Winter in the Country

Another new year has snuck up on us and we're off to a beautiful start!

Winter arrived early this season, and with much gusto, which means that January arrived wearing a beautiful mantle of deep, soft snow. If your only experience with winter is the salty slush and drab greyness of a city winter, then you're in for a real treat once you head out of town to sample winter in the country. In fact, I like to say that winter in the city and winter in the country are so vastly different, they shouldn't even qualify as the same season!

A sunny winter day here means pristine snow that sparkles like diamond dust and stunningly blue skies above deep green conifer spires. On a clear night, the sky is dark by mid-evening, except for the bright stars and perhaps the moon.
We also love the still, snowy days, when flakes as large as apple blossoms drift leisurely down from the sky. They coat every surface, soften every sharp angle into a graceful slope.
Of course, when you tire of simply watching the snow, it's great fun to play in! There are many winter activities to enjoy in the area... snowshoeing, tobogganing, dog sledding, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snow tubing, skating and sleigh riding just to get started. Watch this space or visit our website packages page for details about these and other winter getaway activities in Muskoka and the Almaguin Highlands.

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
- Bill Morgan, Jr.